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Senior Vs Junior Cabin Crew Etc.

Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:14 am

Could somebody explain in simple terms the system of ‘senior’ and ‘junior’ cabin crew in the US?

If, for example, I am a new cabin crew member for an American carrier how long would it take before being able to climb the seniority ladder?

What in simple terms is the difference between a ‘senior’ versus a ‘junior’ base?

I did read somewhere that with some carriers as a new cabin crew member you may not even fly regularly for the first few years as you would be on constant ‘stand by’!

Do you have any choice in where you are based or is it at the carrier’s discretion? E.g. If I lived in New York would that be where I could expect to be based?

The BA Mixed Fleet crews work a variety of both long and short haul routes, why could this type of system not work in the US?

The reason I ask the question is that I have done several TATL flight over the past year and it is obvious that BA and LH have a good mix of both young and older cabin crew whilst long haul flights on American carriers seem to have a much more senior (older) cabin crew.

[Edited 2011-12-14 03:15:35]
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RE: Senior Vs Junior Cabin Crew Etc.

Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:12 pm

Junior and Senior is relative to the airline you are discussing. At a regional airline, you could be a senior flight attendant with only three or four years of seniority. Whereas, at a legacy carrier, you could still be on reserve (and therefore junior) with 10 or 15 years of seniority.

When you are in initial training, most airlines will have you rank their bases in the order of your preference, and you get assigned the first base with an available opening. Some airlines hire specifically for bases (the application for USAirways, for example, might say Flight Attendant - Philadelphia). It just depends on their needs at the time.

A junior base typically means that it doesn't take many years of seniority to hold a line, which means you are no longer on reserve.

Most legacy carriers have very senior flight attendants working international trips because you get a high number of credit hours within a small number of days - leading to more days off overall for the month. Some airlines (like American) have domestic-qualified FAs and international-qualified FAs.

When I flew Qantas a few years ago to Australia I couldn't believe the FA sitting at the door by my seat was younger than me, had only been with Qantas for 6 months, and was on the 747 to LAX regularly. It doesn't really work like that here in the US! Some exceptions could be language-qualified new-hires at airlines like Delta, and the reserve FAs who get called out last minute to cover an international pairing.
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RE: Senior Vs Junior Cabin Crew Etc.

Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:28 pm

Shockingly, I have a friend at sUA that is SFO based with 38 years of service. She is junior there.
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RE: Senior Vs Junior Cabin Crew Etc.

Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:01 am

There isn't much to explain in that, everything about your job; where you're based, which trips you work, which aircraft you work, how much vacation you hold, if you're on call or not, it's ALL determined by seniority/longevity. The longer you've been a FA, the more weight you choices carry, the less time you've been flying as a FA, the less weight it carries.

If you're at Airline-A for 30 yrs but then switch to Airline-B.. you take nothing with you but the memories. You're junior all over again.

As for the terms "Junior" or "Senior" they can have a hundred different meanings depending on that you're talking about. For instance, I've been with WN for about 7yrs... the most Sr FA's have been with WN for 40 yrs. I'm not "senior" overall. In my base I no longer sit regular reserve "on call" shifts so in terms of "reserves" I'm senior... and I don't have to work weekends anymore so I'm "senior" enough for that. I am NOT senior enough to hold charters (which for us pay double-time) ... nor can I hold a line consisting only of day-trips (turns)... so it all depends on what you're referring to.

How else would it work? How does it work in the UK? Does your longevity not count for anything? I'm not saying it's "perfect" in the US... I'd love to see more value be place upon customer commendations and positive work reviews but that won't happen anytime soon. In
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.

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